Wellinghoff Sends Strong Message to Utilities: Change or Die

On March 16, 2012, FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff spoke at the GreenBiz Energy Group Verge conference. During a post-speech interview he stated “[t]he traditional utility is either going to have to change or die.” Wellinghoff noted during the interview that this statement is an attempt to clarify an earlier comment where Wellinghoff categorized utilities as “dinosaurs.” Wellinghoff explained that vertically integrated utilities no longer make sense in part due to the “convergence of new technology.” Wellinghoff said that if traditional utilities do not adapt, they will be relegated to become distribution companies.

Wellinghoff went on to endorse demand response technologies, as he has many times in the past. He advocated for consumers to lobby their lawmakers and state commissions to provide demand response data in order to control retail consumption and costs. Wellinghoff concluded also stated that demand response markets should be extended at wholesale. He urged retail consumers located in regions that do not allow participation in RTOs (such as the West and the Southeast) to lobby state commissions to be allowed to participate in electricity markets through demand response activities.

A video clip of Wellinghoff’s interview is available here (registration with GreenBiz may be required).